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Full disclosure: we think mobile-first design is crazy cool, so please forgive us if it seems like we’re getting a little excited when we talk about it.
But honestly, it is really cool. You might not give two shrugs about design, but it’d be to your benefit to keep reading anyway.
Why? Because mobile-first design makes a better website, and, as we all know, better websites make more money.
Let’s get into the history of this, just for a quick second.
Mobile use has shot up in recent years. Dealers now get more web traffic from mobile than from desktop. And to adapt to that growing desire for mobile access to websites, designers have been changing and building their websites in two ways: desktop-first or mobile-first. These terms have been around for years, but they’ve acquired a new importance in the mobile age.
First up is what can be called “desktop-first.” It means brainstorming and designing for the full desktop site, then carefully taking stuff out until you have something that works on mobile. Even today, this is how a ton of websites are designed.
Next up, and unabashedly our favorite, is “mobile-first.” This means building the mobile version first, focusing on key functions and essential content, and adding more functionality and variety as you build out bigger screen sizes.
Now these might seem just like flip-flopped versions of one another, but that’s not the case, and mobile-first is a lot more effective, for a few very important reasons.
Ever been browsing on your phone and found that some sites load faster than others, even though you have the same signal strength?
It’s highly likely those sites that loaded quickly were designed to be mobile-first.
That’s because a mobile-first site will only have exactly what it needs, and has no excess content that isn’t being loaded because the screen size is too small. That means shorter load times. Mobile-first puts the fastest loading version of a site on the device with the slowest load times, and it makes a huge difference.
Mobile-first design and responsive design are made for each other. With mobile-first, it’s relatively simple to include in your code ways to scale your website up for bigger screen sizes, rather than try and chisel them down.
It should go without saying that if you have mobile users, a website designed to perform perfectly on mobile is a great idea. Mobile users aren’t patient or forgiving. If a mobile site isn’t loading fast enough, or can’t get the job done, they won’t hesitate to try elsewhere. Mobile-first design focuses on mobile User Experience (UX), and ensures that the experience of mobile users is a great one.
We could go on for days about mobile-first, but this isn’t the place to get even more technical and nerdy than we’ve already gotten. This is about the essence of mobile-first design: speed, clean design, and powerful user experience.
Mobile-first starts on a device, but it’s more than that. Good mobile-first design means bringing more of the ever-increasing number of mobile shoppers to the dealership, selling more cars, and bragging more to competitors (or anyone else who might need to be taken down a notch). Mobile-first starts small, but it goes a long way.